Do you believe Splenda, the artificial sweetener, is a healthy alternative to sugar? You may have to think again. According to new research, using Splenda risks damage to the flora in your gut, flora you depend on for the proper digestion of food. It may even, according to a separate study, increase your risk of contracting a form of cancer.
Splenda Risks And Gut Bacteria
The Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health conducted a study in which rats were fed Splenda over a 12-week period. Researchers found that Splenda can reduce the number of beneficial gut bacteria by up to fifty percent. This throws your gut bacteria out of balance, allowing bad bacteria to flourish. This affects more than just your digestion. The bacteria in your digestive system help protect you from diseases that can transit from your gut to your bloodstream.
The fact that this chlorinated artificial sweetener affects rats in this way isn’t a guarantee that humans will be affected similarly, but the Journal’s research makes it clear further studies are needed to determine how Splenda affects gut bacteria in humans. Damage to gut flora may lead to weight gain, obesity, and even diabetes.
Splenda And Leukemia
Researchers at the Ramazzini Institute in Italy conducted a study in 2012 in which mice were fed doses of Splenda. Their results suggested that male mice in particular suffered cancerous tumors, specifically leukemia tumors – with the likelihood of tumors increasing when the dose of Splenda increased. Once again, while we cannot draw an absolute link between how mice respond and how the human body reacts, this research gives pause for thought.
The Ramazzini Institute’s study goes counter to that of other research into Splenda risks. However, the Institute’s researchers note that the bulk of studies into Splenda were conducted by the sweetener’s manufacturer. This suggests a possibility of bias in these studies. Sugar substitutes are a 13 billion dollar business, so there is strong marketing money behind these products.
This research has led the CSPI, the Center for Science In the Public Interest, to downgrade Splenda’s rating from “Caution” to “Avoid”.
What You Can Do
Splenda is a brand name for sucralose, a common sweetener. Whenever purchasing processed foods or drinks, read the ingredients carefully. Sucralose is often included in protein powders sold as a healthy addition to smoothies. Check the ingredients even when you think you’re buying a health-oriented product.
Artificial sweeteners are often used as an alternative to sugar because they sweeten the flavor of food or drink without adding calories. This may seem like a good idea, but if you’re trying to lose weight, keep in mind that using a sweetener doesn’t remove your cravings for sweets. It simply substitutes a different sweetener, one which may have side effects you’re unaware of. You may be much better off simply breaking your cravings for sweets and switching to foods that contain less sugar.
Consult a nutritionist or dietician for help in developing a menu plan that can break your sugar addiction. This is an excellent first step on the path to losing those pounds and keeping them off – without relying on artificial sweeteners which may carry unforeseen risks.